Arms Control Wonk
The nuclear weapons, arms control, disarmament and nonproliferation podcast. Companion to the popular Arms Control Wonk blog (www.armscontrolwonk.com)
info_outline North Korea's New Satellite 11/28/2023
North Korea's New Satellite North Korea finally got a reconnaissance satellite into orbit, after several failed prior attempts! While it is a little rough around the edges, every program has to start somewhere. Jeffrey and Aaron talk through the implications of the DPRK's reconnaissance satellite, the relationship of the DPRK missile and space programs, and the importance of high fashion for the spacelaunching elites. Support us over at !
info_outline The Reason We're all Still Here 10/14/2023
The Reason We're all Still Here Take a listen to the latest season of Jeffrey Lewis's podcast, Far too often, governments behave like toddlers. They’re fickle. They don’t like to share. And good luck getting them to pay attention to any problem that isn’t directly in front of them. They like to push each other to the brink, and often do. But when they don’t, it’s usually because other people enter the proverbial room. Private citizens who step up and play peacemaker when their governments won’t or can’t. People who strive for collaboration and understanding, and sometimes end up finding it in unlikely places. Those people and the work they do, they’re the reason we’re all still here. This season, we’ll hear from scientists, analysts, and idealists who have gone to crazy lengths just for a shot at making peace and building understanding From smoke-filled rooms in North Korea to secret labs in the Soviet Union… to the lawless seas, and even to the depths of outer space (or, at least, the conference rooms where they talk about the depths of outer space). This podcast tells the stories about the people holding us back from the brink. Hosted by Dr. Jeffrey Lewis, a professor and scholar at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies on the Nonproliferation and Terrorism Studies faculty. Previously, he served as Director of the Nuclear Strategy and Nonproliferation Initiative at the New America Foundation and Executive Director of the Managing the Atom Project at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University. He is the founder of ArmsControlWonk.com, a leading resource on disarmament, arms control and nonproliferation issues. Produced by Gilded Audio and the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies
info_outline Shenanigans in Novaya Zemlya 10/11/2023
Shenanigans in Novaya Zemlya Looks like everyone is preparing for a party. Between Russia's potential un-signing of a nuclear test treaty, threats to test "if the United States does," and refurbishments at Novaya Zemlya, things aren't looking great for the longevity of nuclear test ban norms. China and the U.S. have been modernizing too, though the U.S. has offered to allow monitors on-site to verify U.S. lack of testing. Jeffrey and Aaron sit down to talk about the recent developments in Russia, and the likelyhood that there will be a return to explosive nuclear testing in the future. The Era Without Arms Control continues, and threatens to deepen. Support us over at !
info_outline Kim Jong Un's Excellent Adventure 08/17/2023
Kim Jong Un's Excellent Adventure Sam Lair joins the podcast to talk about Kim Jong Un's recent whirlwind tour of the North Korean Defense Industrial Base with Jeffrey and Scott. If you're into missiles, geolocation, and machine tools (and, if you listen to this podcast, you probably are), you're going to want to tune in. Sam and Jeffrey have been mapping out the DPRK DIB, including plant managers, machine tool lineages, production lines, and evolutions over time. Kim's visit to these plants, and the accompanying KCNA imagery storm, unlocked a trove of new information about where nuclear delivery systems are produced and maintained, and updated our ideas for how big the arsenal may be. Support us over at !
info_outline Oppenheimer 08/07/2023
Oppenheimer Jeffrey is joined by the illustrious Kelsey Atherton to discuss Christopher Nolan's film Oppenheimer, as well as the history and legacy of the titular man himself. Kelsey and Jeffrey dive into the choice to focus on Oppenheimer's own security legacy and bypass the direct and indirect horrors affected upon the Congolese miners, New Mexicans, and Japanese civilians, as well as the intentional rendering of power politics and personal animus within the U.S. security apparatus. Kelsey penned a , talking about the wider related experience of watching Barbie and Oppenheimer in the same day. Support us over at !
info_outline Hiroshima 2023 08/05/2023
Hiroshima 2023 Jeffrey is back from Hiroshima, where he participated in a Track 2 nuclear dialogue. The outlook for near-term arms control is still grim. Jeffrey and Aaron unpack the G7 statements on disarmament that the Japanese representatives wanted to re-affirm, the tacit condemnation of Russian and Chinese contained within, and the global theater around narrative control of arms control. Russian, US, and third party interpretations of CTBT and disarmament discussions create significant friction, but the discussion is well moderated by the traditional 5:00 happy hour. Support us over at !
info_outline What the F*** Do They Think the Russians are Going to Shoot at Them?! 07/18/2023
What the F*** Do They Think the Russians are Going to Shoot at Them?! Germany has a gap that needs to be filled in the face of Russian threats. But this time it isn't Fulda, it is....the exoatmospheric layer of ballistic missile defenses? Jeffrey and Aaron try to understand Germany's decision to buy the very fancy Israeli/American Arrow-3 exoatmospheric BMD system, in absense of a specific Russian missile system and despite two Aegis Ashore sites coming online in Europe. Support us over at !
info_outline Failure to Launch 07/06/2023
Failure to Launch Jeffrey is back from Japan and North Korea's satellite-turned-submarine is back from the bottom of the ocean! North Korea's failed Chollima-1 space launcher and its payload, the Malligyong-1, failed to reach space on May 30. Jeffrey and Aaron talk about the Japanese response to the launch, the North Korean reponse to the failure, and whether or not people are tacitly starting to accept North Korean space capabilities. Are the DPRK's space capabilities overlapping with their missile capabilities? How far have their technological arcs diverged, and where are they still overlapping? And is the Chollima-1's second stage a stolen Ukrainian design, or something new and domestic? Support us over at !
info_outline Shangri-la Dialogue with Ankit Panda 06/12/2023
Shangri-la Dialogue with Ankit Panda Ankit Panda joins Jeffrey by the every so fancy pool at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, where they talk about competing speeches and messaging, the views on US-China competition from Southeast Asia, and about how Jeffrey didn't make any new friends in the PLA this year. Support us over at !
info_outline The CAT I is Out of the Bag 05/21/2023
The CAT I is Out of the Bag Ukraine is getting the SCALP-EG/Storm Shadow cruise missile, and that's raising a whole lot of questions about MTCR guidelines Jeffrey and Aaron talk about the history of the Missile Technology Control Regime, what it was meant to originally address, and the whole host of problems associated with figuring out what a destabilizing cruise missile really looks like. Support us over at !
info_outline The Washington Declaration 05/06/2023
The Washington Declaration President Yoon of South Korea recently visited the United States to talk nukes and Don McLean with President Biden. Jeffrey and Aaron talk through what the Declaration actually covers, how much was material and how much was fluff, and the moonwalking capabilities of the D5 SLBM. Support us over at !
info_outline FINALLY. North Korea's Solid ICBM: The Hwasong-18 04/15/2023
FINALLY. North Korea's Solid ICBM: The Hwasong-18 FINALLY. After almost a decade of hinting and teasing and parading fake empty canisters, North Korea has debuted its long-awated solid propellant ICBM. And the team have some questions about where the construction and testing sites were... Jeffrey, Scott, and Dave descend upon the CNS DC offices for a rare in-person podcast to commemorate the event we've been waiting on for years. Support us over at !
info_outline Iran, the IAEA, and the Kingdom 03/21/2023
Iran, the IAEA, and the Kingdom The IAEA is doing a great job with the s**t we're handing them. A very jetlagged Jeffrey joins Aaron to talk about the IAEA and the very positive role that Director General Rafael Grossi has played in trying to hold together the nuclear situation with Iran. JCPOA-holdover cameras, discontinuity in footage, and a bunch of suddenly friendliness from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia all make for a tense and confusing situation. Support us over at !
info_outline The Actual Demise of New START 03/09/2023
The Actual Demise of New START New START has been in peril for years. The first episode of the pod was about the INF Treaty being in danger, and here we are, 8 years later, with almost no arms control treaties left. Maybe it is time to rename the pod Arms Race Wonk, because the next few years are going to be scary. Jeffrey and Aaron talk through the Era Without (Bilateral) Arms Control, the immanent two-front deterrence challenge, and how being scared as **** is the only way we know deterrence is working. Support us over at !
info_outline Another North Korean Missile Parade 02/10/2023
Another North Korean Missile Parade Jeffrey, Aaron, and Scott say the unthinkable: we're a little tired of the parades. But we're glad the youthes are still ordering pizza and crowding around the computer to watch. North Korea paraded at least 15 ICBMs, including 4 that were clearly meant to look like solid-propellent ICBMs. We've been down this road before, they've played with our hearts. But now we're in the era where a solid ICBM is very possible, and a solid ICBM test is expected. The team talks about what got paraded, what the solid propellant ICBMs mean, the end of several long-running ACW threads, and Scott gets real excited about big trucks. Support us over at !
info_outline One of Them is Wrong About That 01/16/2023
One of Them is Wrong About That Both plan on going first, but... President Yoon Suk-yeol of South Korea is being piled on for discussing South Korean pursuits of nuclear weapons (although what he said *exactly* was distorted a little). In the face of increasing pressure to respond to North Korea's nuclear posture, South Korea is realistically pursuing capabilities for rapid, precision strikes. North Korea feels similarly. As Jeffrey always says: both plan on going first in a conflict, but one of them is going to be wrong. Jeffrey and Aaron walk through President Yoon's statements, the complexities of the security situation on the Korean Peninsula, and the instabilities that result from mutual pre-emptive strike postures. Support us over at !
info_outline Detecting Missile Launches with Ionospheric Disturbances 12/21/2022
Detecting Missile Launches with Ionospheric Disturbances Tyler Nighswander and Mike Nute have developed an incredible tool for detecting long-range missile and space launches by processing and visualizing ionospheric disturbances in GPS data. In one of the most fascinating and technically complex episodes of the ACW pod, Tyler and Mike join Jeffrey to talk about their wild new open-source intelligence tool, how it works, and what it means for missile and rocket observation. A visualization of their work can be seen here: https://twitter.com/ArmsControlWonk/status/1593452159365918722?s=20&t=hAI_EJvR8zCRMqj9u36yuw And, of course, shout out to the ACW Slack Channel, wherin Tyler and Mike started this project. Tyler and Mike can be found on twitter at: and Support us over at !
info_outline How Sting Likes to Test 12/03/2022
How Sting Likes to Test Jeeze that was a big missile. North Korea has tested another large ICBM, and this one was (another) doozy. Jeffrey and Aaron talk through modelling this missile, the potential theft of missile tech from Ukraine, Kim Jong Un's Bring Your Daughter to Work Day, and the incredible Missile Launch Detection tool that @tylerni7 and @michaelnute have spearheaded in the ACW Slack channel. Support us over at !
info_outline New New START or New Finish? 11/13/2022
New New START or New Finish? The Biden administration has been working to re-kindle New START talks with Russia, while working to deter Russian WMD use in Ukraine, in an era that increasingly appears to be about risk management instead of risk reduction. How do you restart heavily managed talks in an era of COVID restrictions? How do you do on-site inspections during a conventional conflict? Jeffrey and Aaron talk through the rough state of international nuclear arms control, the increasingly-complex balance of nuclear forces globally, and the core aspects of what makes deterrence actually work. Support us over at !
info_outline The Lake-Bed Missile 11/10/2022
The Lake-Bed Missile Launch a missile get a pod Launch a missile get a pod Launch a missile get a pod Launch a missile get a pod Launch a missile get a pod Launch a missile get a pod Launch a missile get a pod Launch a missile get a pod Launch a missile get a pod Launch a missile get a pod Aaron and Jeffrey talk about North Korea's record-setting number of missile launches and what the North Korean launch authorities look like. A new(?) ICBM, a new Hwasong-12 variant, the bizarre reservoir-bottom lake-missile, and a whole lotta rocket artillery are all keeping the community *very* busy... Support us over at Patreon.com/acwpodcast!
info_outline Another Crazy Train 10/22/2022
Another Crazy Train The Russian invasion of Ukraine is giving people brain worms. Multiple terrible reports, citing oSiNt aNaLyStS, have recently been released and grossly overexaggerated the risk of nuclear weapons use around Ukraine. These reports, particularly about the "nuclear weapons convoy headed towards Ukraine," don't help anyone and just add noise to a chaotic narrative. Jeffrey and Aaron take a knife to bad analysis, and muse on what deterrence actually means to the people living under it. Tangentially related, Superproducer Scott is so excited to use this opening again, a year after its last use. Support us over at Patreon.com/acwpodcast!
info_outline The Janky Triad 10/18/2022
The Janky Triad Does North Korea have a triad? Perhaps a boostrapped, janky triad? How mature is their arsenal at this point? North Korea lobbed a Hwasong-12 over Japan after a week of smaller missile tests, and sparked a testy exchange of missile tests and aircraft scramblings. Jeffrey and Aaron talk about missile overflights, what it means to begrudgingly accept a new nuclear power, and what North Korean nuclear strategy looks like in 2022. Support us over at !
info_outline Stealing the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant 08/29/2022
Stealing the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant What the heck is going on with the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Planet? Aaron and Jeffrey walk through the safety situation, the open source assessments of what is going on, and what appears to be a Russian strategy to....steal a power plant? Links of Note: , Cheryl Rofer Support us over at !
info_outline Rules for Testing a Nuke 08/29/2022
Rules for Testing a Nuke Why isn't North Korea testing nukes? What are the signals and signs that precede a test? Jeffrey and Aaron talk testing indicators, the logistics of detonating a nuclear device in North Korea, and the proper use of the Chatham House Rule... The team talks about the impact of Michael Krepon on the field and on us personally. He will be greatly missed, and his importance and mentorship in the field of arms control cannot be understated. Support us over at !
info_outline The Last Days of the JCPOA 07/24/2022
The Last Days of the JCPOA As the President visited various states in the Middle East, Jeffrey and Aaron sat down to eulogize the JCPOA renegotiation attempts as they slowly slide farther off the rails. Iran's programs continue and it looks like the U.S. is preparing to continue into the sanctions and containment realm, as Israel continues its seemingly ineffective hardware sabotage campaign. The North Korea-ification of Iran-US relations continues, unabated. Support us over at !
info_outline The Wizards of Armageddon 07/01/2022
The Wizards of Armageddon Jeffrey and Aaron walk through a piece of foundational field canon, The Wizards of Armageddon by Fred Kaplan, discussing its coverage of institutional and personal decisionmaking, picking apart the concepts of deterrence and compellence, and discussing the seemingly crystalized debate on the same core tenets, decades after the initial events. Support us over at !
info_outline Waiting for the Boom 06/04/2022
Waiting for the Boom After a brief hiatus due to Jeffrey's house catching on a lil' bit of fire, the Arms Control Wonk team is back to take a look at North Korea's triple missile launch and looming possible nuclear test. Jeffrey and Aaron discuss the North Korean nuclear testing schedule, the expectations of precision that open source intelligence has generated, and what it means when half of the attendees at a nuclear conference all simultaneously leave... Support us over at !
info_outline American ASAT Controls 05/02/2022
American ASAT Controls The U.S. has unilaterally committed to not conducting destructive anti-satellite missile tests! Jeffrey and Aaron walk through what the U.S. has actually normatively committed to, what this means for potential future attempts at arms control in space, and some of the institutional hurdles the U.S. must overcome for a long-lasting commitment to space-based arms control. Support us over at !
info_outline Carrier Killer: China's Anti-Ship Ballistic Missiles and Theater of Operations in the early 21st Century 04/16/2022
Carrier Killer: China's Anti-Ship Ballistic Missiles and Theater of Operations in the early 21st Century and join Jeffrey to talk about their new book: The group sits down to talk through China's DF-21D and DF-26 missiles. Do they work? What do they do? What can they actually accomplish? How do navies adapt to the new threat environment? The group talks through the realities and the puffed up hype around these systems, and how they actually impact strategy and naval operations. Support us over at !
info_outline Test Three Missiles... 03/24/2022
Test Three Missiles... ...get a pod. North Korea has conducted three (and, as I'm typing this, apparently four), ICBM (or ICBM element) tests, with two labelled as "satellite" system tests. Jeffrey and Scott talk through an OSINT Oreo: Good OSINT to identify ICBM tests, BAD OSINT claiming that some agricultural fields were missile support areas, and then more good OSINT in the form of Jeffrey's talented class of missile modelers. Jeffrey also predicts a Hwasong-17 test is coming, and as this episode is being published, he is proven right. Next episode: North Korean Test Bingo Cards. Support us over at !